When President Bill Clinton ordered a two-year moratorium on mining claims on 19,000 acres of federally owned land surrounding Yellowstone National Park, environmentalists cheered. The order did not prevent Crown Butte Mine Inc. of Canada from pursuing its plans to dig for gold and other metals on its already leased claim just northeast of the park. But it stopped the company from expanding its operation and put it on notice that the controversial project was now on the president's radar screen.
"The president has put a noose around the mine
site," crowed Mike Clark, head of the Greater Yellowstone
Coalition, following the president's announcement Aug. 25.
Apparently, the noose was loose. Quick-acting
Crown Butte officials filed 38 additional claims on national forest
lands adjacent to its mine site on Aug. 29 and Aug. 31, narrowly
beating the Sept. 1 publishing date of the president's moratorium
in the Federal Register.
fear the mine will release pollutants into the Clarks Fork of the
Yellowstone River, which flows into the park, are outraged. "Crown
Butte is thumbing its nose at the president and the American
public," Clark said.
Crown Butte officials told
the Denver Post the claims were filed to provide an alternative
mill site and had been in the works for a long time. Said president
Joe Baylis, "Have we done something wrong? I certainly don't think
Meanwhile, an international delegation
visiting the park in early September may apply more pressure on the
company (HCN, 6/13/94). Park experts from the World Heritage
Committee, part of the United Nations, will inspect the mine area
to evaluate whether it endangers the park, already declared a World